2009: I Have a Dream
‘I have a dream’ was famously stated by Martin Luther King Jr. outlining his vision for a nation free of injustice. In our own nation, where leaders often fail to define compelling vision, and where consumerism gives us dreams that are just too small, the artist as a dreamer inhabits a unique space, bringing the unseen into the realm of the seen.
This one-month artist residency run by Art for Change in the summer of 2009 was designed specifically for students still in art college. It saw two artists enrolled in the College of Art, Delhi, MFA candidate Sidharth Pansari and BFA candidate Pankaj Thakur explore the topic 'dreams', with the proposition that the artist can and must dream for an entire generation. Through a reflective process of creating in community, shared meals, discussions, and various other inputs, the artists explored dream, examined their own aspirations, and considered the effect that dreams and their articulation can have on society.
The purpose of the Art for Change residency is to get young emerging artists to explore a larger purpose to their art, to produce art that reflects that exploration, and to share it with a public audience.
The Art Critique
In a student-to-student collaboration the art critique for the works of Sidharth Pansari and Pankaj Thakur was provided by Natasha Ginwala pursuing an M.A. at the School of Arts & Aesthetics, JNU. Ms. Ginwala’s interest in the artists’ process of creation, in addition to the end-product, is characteristic of her refreshingly egalitarian approach to art criticism: Rather than critiquing a finished product, the art critic’s questions and feedback during the process of creation created a unique fusion of artist and art critic’s inputs towards the final outcome.
I Have a Dream: Exploring the Terrain and Transforming Language of Dream - by Natasha Ginwala
All people dream, but not equally.
Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind,
Wake in the morning to find that it was vanity.
But the dreamers of the day are dangerous people,
For they dream their dreams with open eyes,
And make them come true. -D.H. Lawrence
Dreams have been variously understood as random thought mutations and neural patterns, as the speaking psyche, as semantic forays and symbolic narratives. Humanity has been obsessed with the interpretation of dreams and documentation of the world of sleep since recorded history.
However, Dreams also penetrate our conscious ‘waking lives’ as inspiration and function to navigate great ambitions that are not limited to self-actualization of the individual but are more significantly relevant to society at large. It is to this larger socio-cultural framework that social activists, political leaders, scientists, sportspersons and artists have contributed through sheer belief and will to action, often going against societal tide to grant dreams a tangible life.
The artist residency at Reflection Art Gallery brought two young artists together to explore the terrain of dreams. And thus, began a month-long adventure to create a fresh visuality for the overwhelming world of dreamscapes...
The artist, Vincent Van Gogh, once said, “I dream my painting and then paint my dream.” The realm of the imagined is a known oasis for the visual artist to extract from...Every creative portrayal of reality thus, is subjectively fashioned as a personal illustration that draws on vital dream-pools – facilitating the expression of compelling fantasies, reflective ponderings and visionary imaginings.
Sidharth Pansari plunges into Geometric Abstraction, granting his elemental canvas an embodied lyrical flow. Objects appear to sustain a mystery as they converse and remain in perennial circulation – at times within the physical framework and at unexpected moments exploding beyond the periphery of the canvas. These works seem to emulate the act of lucid dreaming – when the sleeping subject is conscious of his/her dreaming state. The experiential duality and accentuated awareness generated by this phenomenon resonates in Pansari’s works, layered with dynamic horizontal motion within a tactile visual field. Colour is made palpable to render time elasticity and stimulate unconditioned ways of seeing. These paintings hinge on the paranormal as they seem to stand as vivid conceptual metaphors charting universal questions that prompt a higher state of being.
Pankaj Thakur negotiates with the imagined as the ‘realm of pure possibility’ exploring liminal states of ‘betwixt and between’ wherein the dream and nightmare come to be conflated representations of life conditions and existential questions. The artist assimilates his thoughts before approaching the canvas, this period of mental incubation is crucial to his creative process. His ultimate expression therefore, is informed by self-conscious purpose. His works capture the fleeting moments between dreaming and wakefulness...it is the meshing of essential themes – time, thought and desire that come to be suspended as recurring visions in these paintings; the binaries traversed are inherent in the nature of portrayal. Though Thakur’s manner remains realistic, the element of subjective fantasy features strongly in his art, transforming it into a creative mediation.